Why corporations are going the low-code and no-code route in their quest for digital transformation.

Monday, April 8, 2019 - 16:26
5 -min read
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“Digital Transformation” is a common term which is heard these days, although many in the business community are still struggling to work through this process and some don’t even really understand it completely.

Digital transformation has been defined as the transformation of organizational activities, processes and models to leverage the changes and opportunities offered by an assortment of digital technologies. Although digital transformation is used mostly in a business context it also impacts other kinds of organizations like governments or public sector agencies.

This all sounds fairly positive and upbeat, right? Wrong! One third (33 per cent) of organizations worldwide have actually cancelled a digital transformation project in the past two years. The average cost of a failed project is more than €500,000 according to a 2017 report by Fujitsu Corporation. The simple fact of the matter is that organisations are, more often than not, unhappy with the IT solutions delivered to them by outside consultants.

The Standish Group Chaos Report found, meanwhile, that only 29 per cent of agile IT project implementations are successful, and 19 per cent are considered utter failures. The UK alone has wasted £37 billion a year on failed IT projects. The research also found that over half of CIOs believed agile IT development to be “discredited”, while three-quarters of CIOs are no longer willing to defend the practice.  Indeed, half of them actively regard agile development as “an IT fad”

In case you missed it: Mid-sized firms must go digital, regional: StanChart 

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In the ASEAN region, local SMEs are struggling due to a lack of resources, whilst MNCs are spending too much time and money churning out innovations that could go-to-market more quickly. Whilst many attributed the failure of their digital transforming projects to poor design, unrealistic expectations, and even bad management, there are in fact three key factors involved in why businesses fail:

 improper methodology used in project initiation and management,

 a lengthy software development life cycle or SDLC,

 poor understanding between customers and software developers.

As compared to ASEAN, China on the other hand has been rather successful in producing IT innovations in a very short span of time, thus making them a top contender in the world digital transformation stakes. How can we, in the ASEAN region, step out and compete with that? 

Firstly, companies need to walk away from the more traditional Enterprise Architecture and Waterfall model. Both developmental models not only consume precious time and money, but they also have the drawback of being enterprise or business-centric. Instead, we should employ Design Thinking methodology which emphasizes on users’ needs and which is thus user-centric. 

Catering to this new way of looking at IT’s impact on the business and product lifecycle is the low-code and no-code developmental model. Essentially, businesses now have a platform which empowers them to develop their own mobile and web apps without the need to code; this means that companies can now produce working web and mobile apps within the space of minutes instead of weeks, if not months.

This in turn creates a whole new space called “DevOps” which is an amalgam of the “development” and “operations” cycles. Instead of doing one and then moving to the other to test bed the new systems processes, companies can now close the circle and accomplish both simultaneously. Project managers can adopt DevOps methodology to shorten the software development life cycle and use development platforms that provide the opportunity to “fail-fast”.

The evolution of codeless software development tools has recently been identified by the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) as one of the nine key tech trends in the region. The use of such codeless platforms quickly materializes the ideation of an innovation, puts it into live testing, and allows for a fail-fast so as to identify shortfalls and arrive at a quick fix.

The codeless or low-code space has been dominated recently by brands such as Hokuapps, Kissflow, Outsystems, and K2. These system are suitable for professional developers and some amateur “power users”. By contrast, our recently launched JET Workflow 2.1 is a local Singapore-developed software which focuses on empowering ordinary users with the ability to develop their own mobile and web applications. This eliminates the communication barrier between them, their managers, and remote software developers.

Another aspect which codeless developers often offer companies is integration with a variety of micro services like SMS gateway service providers, e-vouchers/e-coupons management, online payment gateways, or text-to-voice messaging. The JET delivers such micro services and any user could, for example, develop an app to accept credit card payments within just a matter of minutes (versus weeks if this was tasked out to a professional developer).

Faced by overly lengthy delays in undergoing digital transformation of their business, companies in ASEAN cannot afford to overlook the maturing codeless and low-code space. By embracing this new IT trend they stand to make the transformative process more accessible, certainly much faster, and more goal-oriented (less “hit-and-miss”) than was hitherto the case.


The writer is the founder and managing director of 7-Network. In 2017, he founded JET Workflow®, a codeless app-based solution for enterprise workflow processes.

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